|Q74 : Abraham as Father of the Jews|
From your web page:
We study Abraham's role as the father of the Jews, discussing the promises originating with Abraham and their unconditional nature.
As upholders of Spirit and Truth, would you please be kind enough to explain when Abram who later became Abraham became a Jew? In order for Abraham to be the father of the Jews he would have to have been a Jew himself.
Abram/Abraham was from Ur of the Chaldees and therefore a Chaldean as was Sarah. In turn Rebecca - Isaac's wife, Leah and Rachel - Jacob's wives were also from Chaldea and were not Jews.
I am always prepared to learn from Scripture, so please show me in Scripture where Abraham became a Jew?
|A74 : by Tony Garland |
Our statement that Abraham was "the father of the Jews" does not mean Abraham was himself a Jew—something which your question incorrectly implies we teach.
The statement recognizes the fact that the promises which led to the Jews found their origin in God's working with Abraham. Therefore, he is considered "the father of the Jews" in that he is their ancestor in a special way.
Yes, many other peoples descended from Abraham besides those through the line of Isaac and Jacob, but since the line of promise went from Abraham, through Isaac, to Jacob, and not to the other offspring, there is a special relationship between the origin of the promises in Abraham and their destination in Jacob and his offspring, the Jews.
Moreover, we are not the only ones to recognize this special connection. It is the testimony of God's Word as well:
And his father Zachariah was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he has visited and redeemed his people, And has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; As he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets, who have been since the world began: That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; The oath which he swore to our Father Abraham,"
(Luke 1:67-73 KJ2000)
Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. (John 8:56 KJ2000)
- Stephen before the "council" (sunedrio, Sanhedrin, Acts 6:15):
And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran, (Acts 7:2 KJ2000)
- The apostle Paul:
What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, has found? (Romans 4:1 KJ2000)
- James, writing to the twelve tribes:
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. . . . Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? (Jas 1:1, 2:21 KJ2000)
It would appear we are in good company and on solid Scriptural ground in recognizing Abraham's role as "father" of the Jews.
We do not, nor have we ever taught that Abraham "was a Jew." In several lessons in various courses, we state just the opposite: that Abraham, although considered father of the Jews, could accurately be considered a Gentile because there was no "Israel" prior to Jacob. This is precisely Paul's point in numerous passages where he proves that salvation came by faith prior to the (Mosaic) law and therefore antedates the special arrangements made by God when he sovereignly chose the Jewish nation.
As for the term Jew, although this term originally designated only the tribe of Judah, eventually it came to be applied to the entire nation. By the time of the New Testament, as shown by the passages cited above, "Jew" was used as it is today: to describe all of the descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob—all twelve tribes. Neither Paul nor Zechariah were of the tribe of Judah, yet both refer to Abraham as "our father."